Taking on the corrupt
Fighting corruption and helping it on its way out of the state of Jammu and Kashmir has been one of the main planks of the present dispensation headed by Governor Satya Pal Malik.
No wonder then that the administration has handed over the investigation of major scams in Jammu & Kashmir Projects Construction Corp (JKPCC) to Crime Branch (CB) of the state police. The CB has been tasked to register an FIR soon, and proceed with the investigations.
This is a major step towards eradication of corruption in the organisation, stopping and eliminating backdoor appointments and bringing in a culture of transparency, probity and efficiency. But the questions that have crept after the decision has been taken to hand over the investigations to CB remain.
The JKPCC has been treated as a personal domain by those who had a chance to head the crucial and all important organization. JKPCC was tasked to ensure speedy and timely completion of vital projects in the state of Jammu and Kashmir so that the infrastructure deficit that we are facing is reduced.
However, the lack of regulations and strict rules has made the organization a free-for-all recruitment agency and pleasing blue eyed contractors with manipulated rates and contracts.
It was after such complaints about the functioning of JKPCC, particularly relating to corruption in civil contracts, illegality in appointments at multiple levels and excessive cost and time overruns, the government appointed a fact finding committee to look into all these allegations.
The allegations leveled were so rampant that the committee which looked into the manner of awarding contracts to contractors often on a nomination basis without following transparent tendering procedures, diverting funds from one project to another leading to a large number of incomplete projects found these irregularities happening at the behest of a minister who left no stone unturned to adjust his blue eyed people.
The committee also looked into irregularities in appointments at various levels, including that of the Managing Director, inefficiency in functioning and huge time and cost overruns in project implementation, reasons for estimates for construction being much higher than those of the PWD.
Though a voluminous report bringing out in detail large irregularities in the operation of the JKPCC and recommended on improving the organization was submitted, the government has so far not acted on these recommendations.
The operations in the JKPCC are riddled with ad-hoc functioning, absence of rules and a lack of systematic procedures which has been exploited by those who had a chance to head this all important organization.
Now that the government has woken up to the mess that has been a result of interference by top political bosses of the time, it is obligatory for the Governor to take the issue to its logical conclusion within a stipulated time so that the guilty are punished.